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Purchase of a handgun was associated with an increased risk of suicide or death by homicide

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To determine if an association exists between purchase of a handgun from a licensed dealer and the risk of death from suicide or homicide.


Case control study.


A large health maintenance organisation in Washington State, USA.


353 suicide victims and 117 homicide victims who died between 1980 and 1992 were included as case patients. 5 control participants were sought for each case patient matched for age, sex, and area of residence and this was achieved for 96.3% of case patients. Case patients were identified from the health group's membership records and state death certificates.

Assessment of risk factors

Handgun purchase information was obtained from the Department of Licensing. 3 categories were identified: family purchase (purchase by the study participant or any family member); personal purchase (purchase by the study participant); and family member purchase (purchase by any family member but not the study participant).

Main outcome measures

Adjusted relative risk of death by suicide …

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